PROVO — As part of the June Sucker Recovery Implementation Program, thousands of crap are being cleared from the Utah Lake near Sandy Beach. The efforts are being made to reduce the carp population.
The intimidating job of removing millions of superfluous carp is being performed by the fourth-generation fisherman Bill Loy Jr. and his crew.
“I think we are starting to get a little bit of control,” Loy said. “I mean, it’s a long way from done, but people are noticing a difference in the lake and the quality of the water.”
Biologists believe that, to overcome the damage and return to its natural state the lake needs to get rid of 3.5 million more craps even after the removal of 2.5 million carp over the past three years.
“They have a major effect on everything in the lake, and they dominate the lake pretty much to the detriment of everything but carp,” Chris Keleher, with the Utah Department of Natural Resources Recovery Program.
It is an effort to recover the June sucker (Chasmistes liorus), a fish prevalent to Utah that naturally occurs only in Utah Lake and spawns only in the lower Provo River.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the June sucker as endangered with critical habitat in 1986.
Carp was introduced in the lake in the late 1800s and is thought as the reason for destroying the habitat of the June sucker, which is only found in Utah Lake.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finalized a June Sucker Recovery Plan in 1999.
In an effort to boost the numbers of June sucker, Federal and state dollars are making huge investments. Eradication the lake of 40 million pounds of carp to bring back the sunken aquatic vegetation is element of that process and of main concern.
The estimated 40 million pounds of carp in the lake is just the number of adult fish and does not contain the juvenile that will grow up before the eradication initiative is finished.
The biologists aim to eliminate 75 percent of the carp that implies 6 million fish in all.
“With a concerted effort, we believe we can achieve that target in the next three years, as long as we get the funding to get the work done,” Keleher said.
The Utah Lake Commission has requested the Legislature for more than $2 million this year, $1.9 million next year and $1.8 million in 2016 as an aid. It is believed that from the investment, commission the local economy will gain $94 million over the next 20 years through enhanced recreation and fishing.
“As we remove carp, the energy that is consumed by those carp will be available to the more desirable fish species and they will become more numerous,” said Reed Price, executive director of the Utah Lake Commission.